- Facebook has debuted TMY.GRL A.I. Messenger Bot, a fashion chatbot promoting Tommy Hilfiger's new Gigi Hadid capsule fashion line, according to TechCrunch.
- The bot allows users to type questions or select pre-made queries to learn about supermodel Hadid, shop for clothing and access behind-the-scenes content from the collection’s runway show event. It can be reached through the message button on Tommy Hilfiger's Facebook page or posts, opening a shortlink URL or scanning its Messenger QR code.
- The bot — the result of a collaboration between Facebook's Creative Shops, Hilfiger and botmaker Msg.ai — grew out of a conversation between Tommy Hilfiger (the company's namesake founder) and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. "We are obviously distributed in our own stores and in department stores, but going directly to the consumer is really part of the motive and the future of the omnichannel process,” Hilfiger told TechCrunch.
The debut of this chatbot may say more about Tommy Hilfiger (the brand, not the guy) than it does about Facebook. The social media giant already has been aggressive with chatbots for a while, and its move earlier this year to open its Messenger platform to bot developers showed how serious Facebook is about making chatbots work and turning them into revenue engines for both Facebook and its brand partners.
Its enthusiasm seems to have been contagious, as Facebook disclosed in July that at least 11,000 chatbots already had been developed for Messenger. Still, aside from some interesting developments by companies, like Modiface, we have not heard much about big-name consumer products brands or retailers jumping into the chatbot game.
Hilfiger is one that is making its position as an early adopter clear. It's putting its brand name behind a big bet on new technology that appears destined to play a key role in customer servce, but which some observers believe is unproven or may only a limited role in generating sales, at least in the U.S.
In his comments to TechCrunch, Hilfiger (the guy this time, not the brand) makes it sound like Hilfiger (yep, the brand) knows what it's getting into with chatbots, and knows what it's looking for. But Facebook's chatbot ecosystem doesn't yet support the ability to close sales and accept payments on items that chatbot users discover and might want to buy through the chatbots. That may limit the role for now that chatbots play in the sales process, but it sure seems that for Hilfiger (the guy and the brand), this technology is really more about making connections with customers and creating positive experience that might carry over somewhere — online, on mobile or in-store — to become completed sales.